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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species

Authors
item Comas, Louise
item Eissenstat, D. - PENN STATE UNIV

Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2009
Publication Date: March 11, 2009
Citation: Comas, L.H., Eissenstat, D.M. 2009. Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species. New Phytologist. 182(4):919-928.

Interpretive Summary: The evolution of roots was vastly important for the dominance of large plants and the formation of soil. There is great diversity in root structures today but there has been little exploration into patterns of diversity in root characteristics between species and the direction of this evolution. In a large data set of root traits gathered from 25 woody species we were able to find patterns in root architecture and morphology with plant evolution and ancient mutualistic associations formed between roots and fungi, known as mycorrhiza. Over evolutionary time, roots appear to be becoming finer. Mycorrhiza appear to have influenced root architecture with different mycorrhizal types associated with different degrees of branching within fine root clusters. However, associations between root architecture and mycorrhiza apparently formed more recently than the evolution of species.

Technical Abstract: The evolution of roots was vastly important for the dominance of large plants and the formation of soil. There is great diversity in root structures today but there has been little exploration into patterns of diversity in root characteristics between species and the direction of this evolution. In a large data set of root traits gathered from 25 woody species we were able to find patterns in root architecture and morphology with plant evolution and ancient mutualistic associations formed between roots and fungi, known as mycorrhiza. Over evolutionary time, roots appear to be becoming finer. Mycorrhiza appear to have influenced root architecture with different mycorrhizal types associated with different degrees of branching within fine root clusters. However, associations between root architecture and mycorrhiza apparently formed more recently than the delineation of species because there is a lack of clustering of mycorrhizal types with phylogenetic relationships.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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